Scouting report: Utah
Game info: 6 p.m. Thursday at Huntsman Center (15,000 capacity).
TV: Pac-12 Networks (J.B. Long and Matt Muehlbach).
Radio: KJR 950 AM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Coach: Larry Krystkowiak is 33-45 (.423) in his third season with the Utes and 75-65 (.536) in five years as a head coach. Prior to joining Utah in 2011, he spent two years at Montana where he amassed a 42-20 (.677) record. Krystowiak played at Montana (1982-86). Taken in the second round of the 1986 draft, he had a nine-year NBA career.
Prediction: Picked to finish ninth in a preseason poll in the Pac-12 by media who cover the conference.
Series: Washington leads 8-6 in a series that began Nov. 30, 1951. UW is 2-3 in games played in Salt Lake City.
Last meeting: Washington led by nine points with less than two minutes remaining and hung on to a 59-57 win at Alaska Airlines Arena on Jan. 8, 2014. The Utes trailed by two with 10 seconds left, but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer. Andrew Andrews finished with 19 points, C.J. Wilcox had 14 and Nigel Williams-Goss 13. Washington held UW to 1 for 15 on three-pointers.
Previous game: Lost 79-75 in overtime at Colorado on Saturday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Delon Wright, a 6-5 junior guard, scored a career a career high 27 points against Washington. He converted 10 of 17 field goals, 1 of 4 three pointers and 6 of 8 free throws. He also had 11 rebounds and three steals in 40 minutes. Wright had a chance to win the game, but his off-balance 19-foot, fadeaway three-pointer over Andrews sailed over the rim.
Wright, a junior-college transfer who starred at City College of San Francisco, considered Washington, Gonzaga, Washington State before picking Utah. Shortly after, the Huskies signed Mike Anderson, a junior-college transfer from Mobley Area CC.
Wright has made an immediate impact with the Utes. He’s started all 21 games. He averages 16.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals in 35.7 minutes. And he’s shooting 59.2 percent from the field. He won the Pac-12 player of the week Jan. 20.
He’s the most versatile player in the Pac-12 other than UCLA’s Kyle Anderson. Still, Wright has struggled behind the arc where he shoots 25.6 on three-pointers.
Wright is the younger brother of Philadelphia 76ers guard Dorrell Wright, who has played in the NBA for nine years.
— Expect a big game from Jordan Loveridge, Utah’s second-leading scorer who tallied a season-low four points in Saturday’s loss at Colorado. He was 2 for 11 from the field and 0 for 5 on three-pointers. The 6-8 forward averages 16.0 points and 7.8 rebounds, which ranks eighth in the Pac-12.
Loveridge also had a quiet game against the Huskies in their first meeting. He finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals in 36 minutes. In their only meeting during the 2012-13 season, Loveridge had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in a 74-65 win at Washington.
Loveridge is a very active offensively. He averages 12.6 shots and 34.8 minutes. He does a good job drawing fouls. He averages 4.6 free throws and shoots 81.4 percent at the line. Not sure why he shoots so many three-pointers – nearly five per game – when his average is 29.4 percent behind the arc.
— Brandon Taylor is a streaky-shooting guard. Last year, he burned Washington with his quickness and dribble drive layups en route to 19 points. Last month, he was 2 for 11 from the field and 0 for 5 on three-pointers while scoring just four points against the Huskies.
The 5-10 sophomore point guard is shooting 37.6 percent behind the arc. He drained five three-pointers against Colorado last Saturday. He also sank five threes versus Oregon State while tallying a personal best 23 points.
However, Taylor has also been MIA offensively. He’s been held to fewer than 10 points in 13 games.
— Utah is riding a three-game losing streak. The Utes have lost six of the past nine games. Their biggest win is a 74-69 victory over then-No. 25 UCLA at home on Jan. 18.
— Utah is 0-7 on the road and 14-1 at home this season. The Utes are 3-1 inside Huntman Center against Pac-12 teams. They’ve won 18 of its last 20 games at home dating back to last season.
— Utah’s seven losses have been by a total of 26 points.
— Utah has won 12 of its 14 games this season by double figures and are sixth in the nation in scoring margin (+16.2). However, the Utes tallied many of its blowouts against tomato cans. They feasted on an easy nonconference schedule ranked 350 among 351 teams by basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy.
— Dakarai Tucker, a 6-5 sophomore wing, is a decent spot-up jump shooter, who shoots 37.2 percent (35 of 94) on three-pointers. He’s attempted just 15 free throws, making 12.
— Krystowiak is relying on a three-man rotation in the post that includes: 6-10 sophomore Jeremy Olsen, 6-9 senior Renan Lenz and 7-foot junior Dallin Bachynski who is the younger brother of Arizona State senior Jordan Bachynski. No one averages more than 18 minutes and collectively they average 17.0 points and 10.1 rebounds.
— When evaluating Utah, it’s important to remember Krystkowiak is in the third year of a major rebuilding project. The Utes were 6-25 his first season. They had six transfers that first season and brought in seven new players this season.
— As an indicator of just how much Krystkowiak has rebuilt the program, Utah drew 12,267 fans to Hunstman Center for the UCLA game. The Utes are third in the Pac-12 in average home attendance drawing just under 9,600 fans.
— Utah has used four lineups and eight players have started this season. The lineup below has started the past three games, all losses.
C – Dallin Bachynski, 7-0, 258, Jr., 5.8 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 17.3 mpg., 59.7 FG%
F – Jordan Loveridge, 6-6, 218, So., 16.0, 7.8, 2.8 apg., 33.1 mpg.
F – Dakarai Tucker, 6-5, 190, So., 8.2, 2.3, 80.0 FT%,
G – Delon Wright, 6-5, 180, Jr., 16.1, 7.0, 5.3 apg., 2.8 spg., 1.3 bpg., 59.2 FG%
G – Brandon Taylor, 5-10, 162, So., 10.3, 1.7, 3.7 apg., 1.8 tpg., 86.5 FT%